Have you heard of Deadwood? If you’re not from the US, you may only know Deadwood the TV show, but this small town deep in the Black Hills of South Dakota is steep with Wild West history, and the town does its role in preserving it.
Rob is a big fan of the show Deadwood, and the legends originating from this small gold-mining town in South Dakota, so we made a point of stopping by for a couple of days. It was a real frontier town back in the day, rough and ready, and possessing a notorious reputation filled out by numerous stories that don’t bear repeating on this little family-blog!
It’s a beautiful drive in through the Black Hills, with wild mountainous scenery all around, old gold mining posts dotting the road. We arrived to find a Main Street that didn’t seem to have changed much from the olden days, still holding a hint of sleaze, lined with bars and casinos. I wouldn’t describe it as a family-friendly place by any means, although we found plenty to enjoy, and never once felt unsafe or bored.
After unpacking in our cosy airbnb, which was in a very quiet location, but less than 5 minutes’ walk to the Main St, we explored a bit on our way to find dinner. We struggled to find anywhere serving anything beyond beer and burgers, but ended up with a great bit of luck, eating a sumptuous meal of spaghetti bolognese made with buffalo, and a seafood nest. And the setting? A former bordello (don’t judge, they had a kids’ menu and offered crayons ;)).
Next day we had a hearty breakfast in a converted gas station, still featuring the original pumps outside, and then did the obligatory tour of the Boot Hill cemetery, where the Wild West legends (and lovers) Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane are buried side by side. The tour was packed with information and gave a good glimpse of Deadwood’s previous outlaw life, but still interesting for little ones. C loved going up the hill to the cemetery in the bus, which was a bumpy affair!
We saw numerous other interesting sites as well, such as the saloon where Wild Bill met his untimely end during a game of cards, and the store where the culprit hid out. We even got to see a reenactment of a shootout, which is played out three times a day during the summer. Incredibly, that too was family-friendly, and C thought it was the funnest thing ever!
Deadwood is a lively place, very touristy and clearly aimed squarely at gamblers and bikers, without alienating families. If you look just a little deeper, there is a lot of fun to be had!
I hope that after reading our post, I have we tempted you to visit Deadwood with kids… It’s hands on experience of the wild west is an experience like no other and great for kids of all ages.